With the help of my family at the age of 16, I took action through the platform of the Girl Scout Gold Award. Girl Scouts’ highest award, the Gold Award, is given to an older scout who has spent at least 80 hours creating a sustainable and global-minded project that addresses a certain issue. After discovering a TED talk about an Indian engineer who created a simple machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads, I knew I found a sustainable solution. The machine takes cotton fiber and grinds it up, and the women then press it into simple rectangular molds. They wrap it twice in a cotton covering and then sanitize it in a small UV machine. The women sell these at an appropriate rate cheaper than the market price and use the profit to compensate for their time and purchase the next year’s materials.
Since then, my sister and I have registered as a non-profit and raised money to build a bathroom for the women near the location where machine is housed. We check back often and are currently working on ways to build a better model with the environment, culture, and girls in mind. I’m honored to have been recognized for this work, and I’m so glad that this movement is gaining so much traction around the world, because it has been overlooked for far too long. Though The MAHI Project is not a UT student organization, if you would like to get involved with helping us, please reach out at email@example.com or to The MAHI Project Facebook page. We are currently working on research, spreading the word through outreach, and fundraising in order to plan our next project, and we would appreciate help from any students that are passionate about menstrual hygiene in the developing world.